Solar Car

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Ardingly Solar Car Project

The Ardingly Solar Car Team are the first in Europe to design, build and race a solar-powered vehicle 3,020km from Darwin to Adelaide across Australia in the 2015 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. They entered the Cruiser class which is looking into how solar-powered cars can become a practical mode of transport.

Entering the race is the culmination of three years’ work by some 80 Ardingly College pupils aged 11-18 who have been involved.

The modified Lotus 7 chassis is fitted with a custom-built composite shell and 24% efficient Silicon Photovoltaic solar panels. Regulations stipulate that a Cruiser class vehicle must be practical, have four wheels and upright seating for passengers. It needs to comply with a staggering 43 pages and 366 regulations, or risk exclusion from the world’s ultimate solar marathon.

The Ardingly Solar project has worked alongside receiving financial and practical support from industry and sponsors.  These include DHL, who flew the car out, McLaren, GTR, Time24, Elekta, NTCadcam and Lincoln Binns, whose CEO John Binns has been the team’s Industry Mentor. They have also worked closely with the Eco Racing Team from Cambridge University.

We had three core teams working on the project:

  • The Mechanics Team iresponsible for designing and building our car. 
  • The Electronics Team whose main task was to design and programme the circuitry and systems needed for the car. 
  • The Business Team,  concerned with issues such as finance, sponsorship and promotion. 

"On the 23rd October 2015 Henry Hinder and Holly Hill drove over the finish line of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. 100's of supporters, international film crews, friends and family cheered the team into Victoria square, Adelaide. Henry Hinder describes the 'thrill' of the home straight "it was amazing cruising alongside articulated buses, trams and trucks - negotiating the mad 5 O'Clock rush.

The team left Darwin to the applause of 1000's: 1 wrong turn, a police pullover and a few minutes later they were back in the spotlight - the adventure had begun! A trailer fire, kangaroos, the baking heat of the Australian outback and a few million flies all became a part of the epic 3000km adventure!
Despite having to trailer for some of the event, we are delighted to announce that Ardingly Solar finished 6th out of 13 Cruiser Class entrants beating major technological institutions. Judging was performed against a rigorous rubric of distance travelled, passenger Kilometres, practicality and use of the optional recharge in Alice Springs. As it stands only 25 of the 47 entrants completed the entirety of the race under solar power alone - all cars however, remain incredible feats of engineering, collaboration and human ingenuity.
The 2015 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge attracted the attention of 100's of millions of people from around the world. The event pushed the boundaries of human ingenuity, renewable energy and automotive technology, carving an ever brighter future for solar technology, transport and sustainability. This adventure, this incredible journey has been the work of 100s of Students, our sponsors, and our supporters,  we cannot put our sincerest thanks into words." 

Ardingly Solar Team.

Follow the team's journey, their story starts 2.37 minutes into the programme. Click here

"This is fantastic project.  I was immensely impressed with the car and what the team have achieved. I wish them well in their epic journey across Australia.  Whatever the result of the competition all involved have learned invaluable skills for the future - and we may all learn valuable information on solar power as a result of the event."

Jeremy Quin, MP for Horsham


"The solar car is a tremendously ambitious project and a great challenge for Ardingly pupils and staff, in an exciting area of technology. I look forward to seeing them on the road crossing the Australian desert!"

David Smith, Chief Financial Officer, Rolls Royce

Why do this from an educational point of view?

  • To equip our future engineers and scientists with the latest technology
  • To expose our students to the industrial and research worlds
  • To bring in-house new skills
  • To empower our students and to let them make informed career choices
  • To encourage product design and allow our students to have a route to develop products for the market place
  • To form a basis for ensuring that students keep links with Ardingly whilst in education and future careers.
  • To inspire our students to strive and have ambitious but achievable targets.
  • AND - to have fun whilst learning.


"Ardingly Solar’s undertaking is an excellent way for students to engage in an exciting area of new technology and it gives them an understanding of team work, engineering and running a business."  

David Smith Chief Financial Officer Rolls Royce

“Ardingly’s Solar Car project brings to mind the daring contribution of the scientists and engineers who created the manufacturing revolution that made Britain the world’s top industrial nation.”  

Rt Hon Francis Maude MP

“McLaren recognises that somewhere amongst such young people might be the next R J Mitchell or Kelly Johnson, the next Isambard Kingdom Brunel or Adrian Newey. Indeed, if the standard of engineering that I have seen on the Solar Car here today, and if the potential that I have witnessed in the students are anything to go by, perhaps the worthy successors to those incredible engineering icons will come from some of the students present today.”

Robert Tyers , McLaren Automotive